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Handmade Festival 2016 – Day 1 Roundup

 
By on Wednesday, 11th May 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

If the only music festival you’ve been to (and this is potentially more aimed to UK readers than U.S. fans) consists of standing in a muddy field in wellington boots or becoming heavily inebriated while trundling to the next stage to see a mildly hyped-up indie band, then an indoor festival, or metro-festival, is a highly different experience. Leicester’s 4th annual Handmade Festival took place on the May bank holiday with the stated goal of gathering “the best new and forward thinking music, comedy, art, film, performance and photography and bring(ing) it all together for one weekend”.

When I first arrived at the University of Leicester on the Friday, the welcoming sign of ‘H A N D M A D E’ spelt out up the stairs in large plastic letters beckoned festival-goers into the venue and gave a great indication as to how the festival sees itself: welcoming and with a hint of non-seriousness. Being a completely independent venture, Handmade is unique in that it prides itself on being a place to discover brand new things, and this is most prominent in its musical lineup. The headliners themselves are tenured enough in the industry to draw a crowd, particularly We Are Scientists (pictured at top), Deaf Havana and Lonely the Brave, who jointly win the award for “Largest T-Shirt Representation”. With these crowds drawn in, it was up to the acts beforehand, both local and national, to cement the weekend, and this they did.

On Friday, we were given the choice of either Lacura or Estrons, two bands that cover the rock spectrum nicely, with Lacura taking on the dreamscape, ease-you-in side of things and Estrons taking the face grabbing route. With both sets comfortably and officially kicking things off, the small crowd that had gathered at this early stage of the festival soon ventured to the weekend’s main stage, Academy 2, to witness Ash Mammal. This was the first sign that it would be easy to find your new favourite or soon-to-be favourite band here. Ash Mammal brought a raucous set, reminiscent of early Placebo and not easily forgotten.

An important aspect to mention before heading into any more detail on the weekend is the venue layout. In total there were three main stages for music, not including the smaller stages in the venue landing area. The main stages were the aforementioned Academy 2, the Academy 3, which was found by venturing down into the basement of the complex and through a labyrinth of corridors into a seeming ex-dance studio, and also The Scholar Bar. The initial trial of finding your way around the complex was confusing, but after one trip around the available open areas, it turned out to be a well-laid out routing that consisted of a multi-layered circle. Getting lost was a fool’s errand, and a mistake only made once.

The rest of Friday’s highlights included Black Honey, who are already gaining a serious amount of traction and for good reason. They combine blues-tinged, reverb-heavy rock with a frontwoman who has the sultry and confident attitude of Debbie Harry, Alison Mosshart and Cherie Curie combined. Sheffield’s 65daysofstatic brought an electronic turn to the proceedings with a light show and tunes to make a strong enough statement that should also aide their current hype. By far the biggest highlight of the day was punk band Pretty Vicious in The Scholar Bar, a tiny venue that already made the softer acts seem edgier than you would believe. Pretty Vicious brought out their re-birth of British punk and showed us exactly how they’ve managed to score a major label deal. Snotty, abrasive with purely fantastic riffs, they’re enough to give the Sex Pistols a run for their money.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/X6uBrek6Kd4[/youtube]

Headliners We Are Scientists proved why they’re still going strong in the game after over a decade, a solid set full of the massive hits that first put them in the spotlight, peppered with newer songs which sounded just as strong. The show itself did feel like a watered down version of an atypical We Are Scientists event, at times feeling rushed. However, having taken to the stage 15 minutes late this was potentially an executed measure to get through all of the crowd pleasers.

Stay tuned to TGTF for parts 2 and 3 of Steven’s roundup of Handmade Festival 2016, which will follow in the coming days.

 

Preview: Handmade Festival 2016

 
By on Monday, 11th January 2016 at 9:00 am
 

This may come as some surprise, despite all of the doom and gloom at the moment surrounding the current state of the UK music scene, which seems to be a feeling exclusive among the music-loving public. There are actually a wealth of music-supporting communities and people doing what they do because they love it. Case in point, Handmade Festival in Leicester. Now in its fourth year in (30 April – 1 May) and having upgraded to the Leicester Apollo, it’s going stronger than ever. And even better, it’s completely independent.

Being curated by the same team since its origins, Handmade Festival has seen the likes of Scottish darlings Honeyblood (2015) and indie rock foursome Tellison (2014). Due to its smaller size and the sheer volume of volunteers it sees, people who offer up their free time to make such a great event happen, even more thought and process can go into curating the best bang for your buck lineup.

The move to being just at the Apollo instead of spread across smaller venues, such as Firebug that is managed by one of the organisers John Helps, has certainly not meant that its lost the charm or ethos of a small, independent venue. Utilising these smaller venues for preview show or after parties, they’re able to bring in more national crowds as well as showing off exactly what makes this scene in Leicester so great. It also means they can book larger, more established artists.

This year’s lineup so far has given us We Are Scientists (pictured at top), who interestingly enough are already on the bill for Live at Leeds, as well as Sheffield’s 65daysofstatic. Now three more acts have been announced. Joining the aforementioned heavy hitters will be Welsh indie sextet Los Campesinos, who haven’t released a record since 2013 so we may potentially see new material from them this year in preparation.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mA2CG6WWcsg[/youtube]

Cantabrigians Lonely the Brave, who are well underway with their sophomore effort they are currently recording in Sheffield, have also been announced. Having undertaken a short tour road-testing new material, what we’ve heard so far is sounding as strong, if not stronger, than their 2014 debut ‘The Day’s War’. There is also Pretty Vicious who had a superb 2015. Despite only having released one single and performing a handful of gigs, they were soon signed to Virgin EMI and are gearing up more single releases.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrKmzVCcYfw[/youtube]

Handmade Festival is one certainly not to be missed. At just £30 for a weekend ticket, it’s easily the most affordable festival you can get to, and with a strong lineup so far, it’d be a crime not to. Festivals like Handmade are a rarity. It’s made by people who truly understand how to make an event memorable, not just another gig in another city. You’re guaranteed to remember every moment. And if that’s not enough to entice you then nothing will.

For more information and ticket purchasing information go to the official Handmade Festival Web site.

 

65daysofstatic / January and March 2014 English and Irish Tour

 
By on Monday, 6th January 2014 at 9:00 am
 

To keep your blood pumping this month, Sheffield’s 65daysofstatic are going on a short tour of England and Ireland, curiously enough, followed by three dates in England in March. No doubt they’ll be bringing their punishing live show. Tickets are on sale now.

Tuesday 14th January 2014 – Chester Live Rooms
Wednesday 15th January 2014 – Cork Cyprus Avenue
Thursday 16th January 2014 – Limerick Dolan’s
Friday 17th January 2014 – Galway Roisin Dubh
Saturday 18th January 2014 – Dublin Button Factory
Sunday 19th January 2014 – Belfast Limelight 2
Monday 20th January 2014 – Sheffield University Foundry
Tuesday 25th March 2014 – Exeter Phoenix
Wednesday 26th March 2014 – Southampton Brook
Thursday 27th March 2014 – London Koko

 

Tramlines 2012: Day 3 Roundup

 
By on Tuesday, 21st August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

After the exhaustion of last night’s Crookes set at Tramlines, Sunday had come right on cue. With an eclectic mix of acts on both of the specially erected city stages, it’s finally time to visit the main stage for local legends The Everly Pregnant Brothers. After seeing them on the busking bus last year, their step up to opening the main stage was one to celebrate as their set of ukulele based Yorkshire-ised popular hits including ‘Chav World (Mad World)’ and ode to Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab’ with more Yorkshire than you can shake a pasty at lightens up Devonshire Green with a brilliant atmosphere.

Leaving the main stage for now to return to the Nando’s New Music Stage, Holland (above) play a set of as or yet unknown tracks, one to keep an eye on perhaps? Either way they’re followed by the guitar-pop sounds of Let’s Buy Happiness. The sound is uplifting even if the lyrics are rooted in dark undertones of sarcasm for loves-passed-by. Neither band are in line to set fire to venues and charts, but they’re enjoyable enough for a relaxing afternoon in the sun.

Going off route a bit, its time to venture to new venue The Hop for a band who’re following in the steps of Sheffield duo Wet Nuns with their blend of hearty rock with a twist of blues and energy for good measure. The Blackbirds (below) are loud and riff heavy with some thumping drums and whilst the band have a lot to do before they achieve such levels as their local peers, the promise is undeniable even if the crowd is limited to around twenty people.

Everything in the day has been leading up to one thing though. Whilst across Sheffield, everyone’s winding up to their final headliners including a hugely notable homecoming show for 65daysofstatic on the New Music Stage; indie underdogs and all round nice guys We Are Scientists are due to close the festival on the main stage. The buzz for their support Field Music (below) is sadly nonexistent; you feel the group would have been better off surrounded by their more devoted fans inside somewhere like the Harley, but the band stick to a tight set that sounds a bit amiss in such a setting.

We Are Scientists come on stage though and Devonshire Green starts to dance. Playing a singles collection of their by now well known indie rock tracks with a few new ones added in to test the water on their upcoming fourth record the band haven’t put many notes out in years and that’s appreciated by the gathered Sheffield masses.  Sadly though, once again the stage is running late so in order to catch a few minutes of another local band on the rise, TGTF heads off up to Soyo.

Screaming Maldini are by now underground favourites. The enthusiasm with which they play their fresh breed of music that treads between the singalongs of pop and the eccentricity of math-rock on a delicate line (landing a bit more on the pop sound) makes for a highly enjoyable finish to the weekend. Of course acts continue late into the night, but it’s once again last-train home time and even with the occasional disappointment; Tramlines has once again proved that you can achieve a hugely enjoyable and bustling festival of solid acts without charging a penny to the fans. This time next year, Sheffield?

 

Preview: 2000 Trees Festival

 
By on Thursday, 17th May 2012 at 9:00 am
 

Winner of the Grass Roots Festival award at 2010’s UK Festival Awards, 2000 Trees (12-14 July) has quickly become a staple part of the boutique festival scene. Since its early beginnings in 2007 with just a 1000-person capacity, this year 4500 people will don their wellies and head on down to Upcote Farm, Gloucestershire. And what a line-up they have to offer.

Headlining the 2-day extravaganza are the post-rock favourites 65DaysOfStatic  and Brummy indie cohorts Guillemots (pictured at top). But it’s not just the Main Stage bill-toppers to excite the crowd, TGTF faves Dry the River are also making an appearance as well as the new-found-folkies The Futureheads. But the biggest coup of the weekend is the booking of Hundred Reasons who 2000 Trees have tried to snap up for the past four years, and it’s finally happened. They’ll be performing their 2002 Top 10 album ‘Ideas Above Our Station’ in its entirety.

But that’s not all 2000 Trees has in its arsenal, since the introduction of the new ‘heavy stage’ last year – dubbed The Cave – interest has skyrocketed from alternative music fans. Invading The Cave this year are Three Trapped Tigers, Pulled Apart By Horses, Future Of The Left, Gallows, Rolo Tomassi and Lower Than Atlantis to name a few.

To keep the festival especially green, all of the bands are from the UK to cut down on fuel costs and emissions. And this summer weekend truly does showcase some of the best new music that Britain has to offer, from varying ends of the spectrum. And there’s a brilliant new-age hippy vibe, what’s not to love?

Unfortunately 2000 Trees is sold out this year, but there may still be competitions running to win tickets or you could hassle your friends with tickets into selling it to you. Because one thing’s for certain, it’s going to be a special weekend for British music.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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